How To Prevent Backsliding

There’s a story that’s been around for a long time that’s been used by authors, politicians and public speakers about how to boil a frog.

Supposedly a scientific experiment was conducted in the 19th century where a frog was placed in a pan of hot water and it immediately jumped out. But the researcher found that if they placed it in a pan of cool water, it would placidly float along. Then they learned if they gradually increased the temperature the frog would sink into a tranquil stupor and finally allow itself to be boiled to death.

The story is probably an urban legend. But it’s a good metaphor for the danger of Christians becoming unfaithful and falling away from the Lord.

“It is doubtful if a moral fall is ever abrupt,” wrote, A.M. Hills in Backsliders and Worldly Christians. “People decline in religion and backslide gradually. Like descending a stairway, they go down step by step.”

In yesterday’s post we looked at Galatians 1:6-9 how these Christians were being deceived by those who perverted the gospel of Christ. Paul said some had “fallen from grace.”

Today, let’s consider how to prevent backsliding. If we wait until we’ve fallen, it’s often too late. For some, restoration is next to impossible. Like the frog, we’ve gradually become comfortable with the soothing words of false teachers and a lifestyle that feels good to us but is without God’s approval.

So, the answer is spiritual preventative maintenance. How can I prevent backsliding?

(1) Recognize that you can fall.

The Bible warns “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). No one is so smart that they are exempt from being deceived doctrinally. And no one is so strong that is immune to moral failure. Be alert and aware of Satan’s schemes and snares. And continue in prayer for knowledge, wisdom and strength to remain faithful.

(2) Periodically “examine yourself.” (2 Cor 13:5).

Health experts realize the need for an annual physical exam. We may think we are healthy but blood tests, x-rays, and EKG’s may reveal a problem we didn’t know existed. The same is true spiritually. Come to the Great Physician and allow yourself to be examined by His Word. Here are some important questions.

Is your faith growing?

Are you spiritually stronger?

How is your appetite for spiritual food?

How’s your prayer life?

Are you regularly reading and studying the Bible?

Do you worship every Sunday? Or frequently skip services?

Do you recognize your sins? And ask God’s forgiveness?

Is the fellowship of other Christians important to you?

Do you find yourself listening to and approving of those who find fault and constantly criticize the Lord’s church, gospel preachers, and God’s people?

The answers to these questions may reveal a spiritual defect you need to correct.

(3) Stay in the Word.

All of us, including preachers, can find ourselves more interested in books about the Bible instead of reading the Bible. While devotional tools are helpful they cannot replace the Word, and that includes blogs like ThePreachersword.

Like the Bereans, we must eagerly receive the Word, and daily search the scriptures, and examine what we read, hear and are taught by others.

(4) Keep connected to God through collective worship.

Christianity is not a solo religion. It is the “one another” way. Together we are stronger. The first century Christians assembled for worship (Ax. 20:7) and were admonished not “to forsake” the assembly. Their association was the catalyst for stimulation that resulted in greater love and good works (Heb 10:24-25).

Furthermore, remember that worship is primarily about praise to God. Don’t attend as an observer, but a participant. Don’t be a critic. Be an encourager.

Worship renews, revives and refreshes us. It recharges our spiritual batteries when we are weak.

(5) Engage in fellowship outside the assembly.

The early Christians enjoyed each other’s company and ate meals together from house to house (Ax. 2:46). Extending hospitality and enjoying association together strengthens our relationships. Experiencing life together in a smaller context allows us to open up. Be real. And learn about one another’s needs, so we can lend support.

(6) Find ways to serve others.

We all have various gifts, talents, and abilities. Look for ways to use your unique giftedness to minister to the needs of fellow Christians and your fellow man. Paul put this way, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal 6:10).

When we are involved in contributing our time, talent and treasure to others, we receive a blessing. And experience spiritual growth.

(7) Share your faith.

Don’t be ashamed of the gospel or your Christian values and beliefs. The more you share your faith, the stronger you grow. Find a way within the framework of your personality and ability to share Jesus’ message of life and light.

Finally, in the words of Woodrow Kroll, “The best way to avoid going downhill is to stay off the slope.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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